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2014 Cadillac CTS debuts new design, twin-turbo power, Vsport model [w/video]

Tue, 26 Mar 2013 18:01:00 EST

If ever there were a Cadillac to truly rival the world's best, this could be it.

With every new model, Cadillac indeed gets closer and closer to actually performing at the top of its class, rivaling those crafty Germans at their own sport/luxury sedan game. The best example yet of Cadillac's efforts to challenge the world came last year, when we met the 2013 ATS – a vehicle that we praised for its on-road dynamics and interior refinement, and later went on to be named North American Car of the Year.

Now comes the 2014 CTS, an all-new sedan that aims to improve upon everything Cadillac learned from the ATS project, making its official debut this week at the 2013 New York Auto Show. We've already had the chance to check out the car in person, and everything seems to be a bit sharper with this new CTS, and we aren't just talking about the bold front end. The powertrain lineup has expanded to three engine offerings, including an all-new twin-turbo V6; the interior materials are some of the best we've seen and felt on a Cadillac ever, and the engineering team's effort to make this CTS longer, lower and leaner will no doubt pay off once it hits the road.

If ever there were a Cadillac to truly rival the world's best, this could be it.

Take one look at Cadillac's new baby and you'll notice that there are elements of the Ciel concept in the CTS' design (look closely at those headlamps, lower air intakes and large, prominent grille), and to say this new sedan is a great-looking car is an understatement. Up front, you can really see the designers' attention to detail with little things like the rakish headlamp clusters that extend far back along the front quarter panel, the many curves and character lines that start in the front fascia and sweep far back into the rear deck, and the sharp LED accents at the front and rear. Cadillac says it absolutely wants to own vertical LED technology, and the 2014 CTS is just another iteration of how this lighting element can be used as part of an overall modern design.

There are elements of the Ciel concept in the CTS' design, and to say this new sedan is a great-looking car is an understatement.

Honestly, we're surprised at just how low this sedan's hood sits, but Cadillac assures us that the design does, in fact, meet pedestrian crash standards in all of the markets in which it will be sold. And while things are indeed bold and heavily sculpted at the front, this doesn't exactly carry over to the car's rear. In fact, from the rear three-quarter angle, the large overhang behind those hind wheels looks a little long – we feel this way about the XTS, too (even more so, truthfully). But because the car sits lower to the ground and the roof height has been reduced, it's not a total deal-breaker. The overall styling is good, and the CTS' rump is indeed elegant, with its better integration of the third brake light and LED taillamps. It just isn't quite as menacing as that face.

Compared to the outgoing CTS, the new model is 4.2 inches longer (riding on a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase) and nearly an inch shorter in overall height, though the 2014 model is actually narrower by three-tenths of an inch, a subtle nod to General Motors' intent to sell this car in narrow-streeted markets. Cadillac worked to save weight wherever possible with the new CTS, and thus, lots of aluminum bits are used outside, most notably on the doors, bumpers and in many other exterior components. All in, the new CTS (in base form) weighs in at 3,616 pounds – 244 pounds lighter than the current 3.0-liter base model and roughly 200 pounds lighter than a similarly equipped BMW 528i sedan.

On the powertrain front, we already told you about the brand-new twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 that will make its debut in the 2014 CTS, pumping out 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque through a new eight-speed automatic transmission. This powerful six will also be offered in the 2014 XTS flagship (mated to a six-speed transmission in that application), and while Cadillac has not yet confirmed any other plans for the LF3 V6, we'd be a little shocked if a variant didn't work its way under the hood of the forthcoming ATS-V.

Rounding out the CTS' engine range is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder for the base car producing 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 rated at 321 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. The 3.6-liter engine can also be paired with the new eight-speed automatic from the twin-turbo powerplant, while the 2.0T uses a six-speed automatic. A manual transmission isn't offered with any engine, and Cadillac says it isn't investigating the use of dual-clutch transmissions in the CTS at this time.

On the fuel economy front, official EPA numbers haven't been released as of this writing, but Cadillac estimates that the base, rear-wheel-drive CTS 2.0T will achieve 19 miles per gallon city and 30 mpg highway. (Adding all-wheel drive to the equation should reduce the numbers to 18 and 28, respectively.) For the naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6, Cadillac estimates 19/28 mpg city/highway with rear-wheel drive and 18/27 mpg with AWD. On the top end, the twin-turbo V6, which is only available with RWD, is estimated to net a still respectable 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

Cadillac engineers have built upon the strength of the chassis engineering found in the ATS for this new model, and for the first time, the company's Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping system will be available on non-V-badged cars equipped with 18- or 19-inch wheels (17s are standard).

For the first time, Cadillac will also offer a Vsport version of the CTS – sort of like what BMW does with its M Sport cars. This highest-performance CTS (until the legit CTS-V shows up) uses the twin-turbo V6, eight-speed automatic and model-specific features like aluminum 18-inch wheels with Pirelli summer tires, a quicker steering ratio, Brembo disc brakes, a heavy-duty track cooling package, an electronic limited-slip differential and a driver-selectable track mode.

Cadillac engineers have told us that the new CTS will have the "most agile driving dynamics in its class" while still being an immensely safe vehicle, as well. The latest suite of technological safety goodies have been fitted to the CTS, including adaptive cruise control, panic brake assist, forward collision alert, collision preparation with brake prefill, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, a rear-view camera with cross-traffic alert, OnStar and so on.

Inside the CTS, a stronger focus has been put on high-quality materials and better fit-and-finish, both an area of complaint we've always had about the outgoing model. A total of eight "interior environments" will be offered, with leather hues ranging from black to tan to brown to blue (yes, blue), with just as many contrast colors available. As for trim pieces, real wood, carbon fiber and aluminum will be available, and Cadillac says that these pieces can be switched out at the dealership depending on a customer's individual taste. It all looks very good, though the interior isn't a dramatic departure from what we've seen in the ATS and XTS.

Cadillac's full suite of love/hate CUE infotainment functions will be available in the CTS, including the reconfigurable 12-inch LCD gauge cluster that wowed us in the larger XTS. In addition to that tech, material upgrades like Alcantara are available, as are optional goodies like a panoramic sunroof, rear sunshades, tri-zone climate control, unique ambient lighting and a 20-way power adjustable driver's seat.

This third-generation CTS looks to be Cadillac's best offering yet.

Pricing has not been announced as of this writing, though we expect to have that information closer to the car's on-sale date later in 2013. Production of the 2014 CTS will begin this fall at GM's plant in Lansing, Michigan.

All in, we're impressed by what we've seen with the new CTS. Cadillac is indeed accelerating forward with each new car it produces, and this third-generation CTS looks to be the brand's best offering yet. Of course, we'll reserve final judgments until we get the car out on the road, but things look very, very promising.

Oh – and this goes without saying – but based on everything detailed here, we simply cannot wait for the next CTS-V.

2014 Cadillac CTS Elevates to Challenge World's Best

- Longer, lower and leaner sedan drives into heart of midsize luxury segment

- Lightweight technologies, including aluminum door structures, contribute to lower curb weight and nearly 50/50 weight balance

- New Vsport model offers new Cadillac Twin-Turbo V-6 and brand's first eight-speed automatic transmission

NEW YORK – Cadillac today introduced the all-new 2014 CTS sedan, which ascends into the heart of the midsize luxury market with expanded performance, elevated luxury and sophisticated technology.

The third-generation CTS sedan is based on the high-performing rear-drive architecture of the award-winning ATS sport sedan, moving Cadillac into the prestigious class of midsize luxury sedans. It will be the segment's lightest car, enabling the most agile driving dynamics in the class. A range of power-dense powertrains underpin its performance, including the all-new Cadillac Twin-Turbo engine and eight-speed automatic transmission.

Production of the 2014 CTS begins this fall in Lansing, Mich.

"The all-new 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan delivers crafted design, thrilling performance and sophisticated technology," said Bob Ferguson, vice president, Global Cadillac. "The car that has always been Cadillac's centerpiece stretches figuratively and literally to challenge the world's best."

A longer, lower and more athletic-looking proportion is introduced on Cadillac's landmark sedan and evolves the brand's Art & Science design philosophy. While growing five inches (127 mm) in length, including a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase, the roofline and cowl – the base of the windshield – are about an inch lower, dimensions that complement the longer exterior to accentuate the car's lean aesthetic.

"With Cadillac growing globally, driven by rising product credibility, the new CTS elevates the brand to a new level," said Ferguson.

While stretched in overall length and wheelbase, the all-new CTS sedan has a lower curb weight than the preceding model and weighs about 200 pounds (90 kg) less than the BMW 528i. Lightweight features, including Cadillac's first aluminum door structures, contribute to the lower weight and a nearly 50/50 weight balance. And for the first time on CTS, Magnetic Ride Control, Cadillac's real-time damping system, is available on base models.

Cadillac's shield grille and signature vertical lighting elements – including LED front signature lighting detail – evolve on the CTS. The grille is wider, with a more detailed texture, while the headlamps flow up with the hood line, incorporating crystalline LED light guides for a technologically advanced appearance with more uniform illumination.

Active grille shutters are included on some models, improving aerodynamic performance on the highway to enhance fuel efficiency.

Inside, a roomier, driver-centric cockpit interior with integrated technology and hand-crafted appointments complements the exterior elements and supports the CTS sedan's driving experience. Eight available interior environments are offered, each trimmed with authentic wood, carbon fiber or aluminum. Leather seating is available, including available full semi-aniline leather, with hand-crafted, cut-and-sewn executions.

CTS Performance

The new Cadillac Twin-Turbo V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission combination leads the CTS sedan's powertrain lineup in the new CTS Vsport. It is the first twin-turbocharged engine ever offered by Cadillac and is the brand's first eight-speed automatic.

The CTS Vsport also features:

- 18-inch aluminum wheels with Pirelli summer-only performance tires (19-inch wheels with all-season tires are available)
- A quicker steering ratio
- Brembo disc brakes with aluminum calipers and high-performance brake pads,
- Heavy-duty track cooling package
- Driver-selectable track mode with specific steering rate and Magnetic Ride Control calibrations for greater track performance
- Electronic limited-slip differential that enhances capability on the track – including optimal acceleration out of turns.

The Cadillac Twin-Turbo is SAE-certified at 420 horsepower (313 kW) and 430 lb.-ft. of torque (583 Nm), making it the most power-dense six-cylinder engine in the segment. A pair of smaller turbochargers helps provide more immediate power on demand, with approximately 90 percent of peak torque available from 3,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm. That gives the engine a broad torque curve that customers will feel as strong, willing power in almost all driving conditions – and helps the CTS sedan reach 60 mph in an estimated 4.6 seconds.

The 2014 CTS is also available with a naturally aspirated 3.6L V-6 rated at an estimated 321 horsepower and also matched with the new paddle-shift eight-speed automatic in rear-wheel-drive models (or six-speed automatic with all-wheel drive; and a 2.0L turbocharged engine rated at an estimated 272 horsepower and paired with a six-speed automatic.

Cadillac's new, paddle-shift eight-speed offers efficiency and performance advantages over a six-speed transmission, including 1.5-percent greater fuel economy.

Excellent power-to-weight ratios and racetrack-honed suspension geometries established with the development of the ATS enabled engineers to advance CTS's performance with greater feelings of feedback, control and response. The comparatively low curb weight helps make the most of the driving experience by allowing the use of lighter-weight chassis components, which reduces unsprung weight to enable more precise handling without compromising ride quality.

The CTS sedan's low mass and optimal brake sizes are expected to give it braking performance that is among the best in the segment, with standard Brembo brakes.

Suspension and driver control highlights also include:

- Multi-link MacPherson strut suspension with a double-pivot design
- Five-link independent rear suspension
- Available all-wheel-drive
- Premium electric, variable-assist power steering gear from ZF Steering Systems
- Available Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping system
- Choice of 17-, 18- and 19-inch aluminum wheels.

A number of aluminum components are used with the suspension system, while the rear suspension is mostly steel. That helps offset the weight of the engine and transmission at the front of the vehicle, helping the CTS deliver its near-perfect weight balance and contributing to less noise and vibration.

CTS technology and safety

The CTS sedan seamlessly blends comfort, convenience and safety technologies with the interior's hand-crafted appointments and flowing design. Active safety features provide alerts and intervene when necessary to help avoid crashes.

At the core of the car's intuitive technologies is CUE, Cadillac's infotainment system that uses smartphone- and tablet-influenced controls and commands to access information and entertainment data. An eight-inch, high-resolution color touch screen with haptic feedback allows users to swipe and drag preferences. Bluetooth connectivity with natural voice recognition is standard with CUE, along with USB and SD card ports.

An available 12.3-inch high-resolution, configurable LCD instrument cluster display complements the CUE display and supports the active safety features. It offers drivers four layouts – from basic to performance-oriented – each delivering bold, crisp graphics tailored to the level of vehicle information desired. A full-color, configurable head-up display is also available.

CTS technologies also include:

- Cadillac's first 20-way adjustable front seats
- Motorized cup holder lid in the center console
- Heated and cooled (ventilated) front seats and heated steering wheel
- Electronically locking glove box
- Electronic park brake
- Adaptive remote start feature that also activates the climate control system
- Standard Bose eleven-speaker sound system and available Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system with 13 speakers.

The new CTS sedan is the first Cadillac to offer Automatic Parking Assist, which enables the car to park itself in parallel spaces. It uses ultrasonic sensors to locate a suitable space and maneuver the car into the space, with the driver only required to engage reverse and apply the accelerator and brake pedals. Ultrasonic rear park assist is standard.

Ultrasonic sensors, as well as radar and cameras, support the CTS's advanced safety features to help prevent crashes. Among the most sophisticated is Front and Rear Automatic Braking, which relies on short-range radar technology and ultrasonic sensors to help the driver prevent front and rear low-speed collisions via a progression of alerts that extend to complete braking, if necessary.

A Driver Awareness Package includes Cadillac's patented Safety Alert Seat technology. It uses vibrating pulses in the driver's seat to alert the driver to an imminent collision or to vehicles in the car's blind spot. The seat vibrates on the left or right side, or both sides simultaneously, depending on the direction of the risk.

GM's first application of automatic safety belt tightening is offered in the new CTS. It automatically takes slack out of the safety belts when buckled and offers real-time, active adjustments during driving to ensure optimal tension and comfort. Additional available safety features include:

- Full Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control
- Panic Brake Assist
- Forward Collision Alert
- Automatic Collision Preparation (with brake prefill)
- Lane Departure Warning
- Side Blind Zone Alert
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Rear Vision Camera With Dynamic Guidelines
- Adaptive Forward Lighting
- Active pedestrian protection system (in global regions where required).

The new CTS sedan also features 10 standard air bags, including front-passenger dual-stage low-risk deployment, which makes the most of the air bag trajectory and inflation rate based on the occupant's size, position and severity of the crash.

Additionally, OnStar is standard for one year. It can use GPS and cellular phone technology to automatically call for help in the event of a crash. OnStar service also includes myCadillac and OnStar myCadillac mobile apps, which offer vehicle information, controls and OnStar services via the customer's iPhone or Android smart phone.

By Steven J. Ewing

See also: Autoblog Podcast #326, 2014 Cadillac CTS images leak out yet again, Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #326 LIVE!.